In memory of Em Kolstad–Billings Spinners and Weavers
For more than 50 years, Em Kolstad mentored spinners and weavers in Yellowstone County, Montana. Most spinners in the area learned to spin from Em or from those whom she taught who then taught others. As a member of the Billings Spinners and Weavers, she traveled to small communities to give workshops and support those she taught, corresponded with others, and helped innumerable knitters in the Needle Shop in Billings with their projects. Her life began in Belgium where she learned to spin and tat from her mother, later helping to support the family during World War I by making bobbin lace. Linda Shelhamer wrote a tribute to Em in the Montana Association of Spinners and Weavers newsletter, acknowledging her many contributions. Her voice recollecting travel through Ellis Island as an immigrant was recorded as one of four Montanans chosen by the Ellis Island National Historical Archive group to become a forever exhibit in the historic monument. She was given the Living Treasure Award by the Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners in 1998. Em died in October of 2008 at the age of 94.